The Republican “debate” tonight wasn’t a debate – it was 10 guys on Hardball answering Chris Matthews’ questions. And if anything jumped out it was that President Bush has no philosophical coattails. There will never be any “Bush conservatives” and that is too bad. He had the chance – he was on the road – to fundamentally redefining the Republican party. Go back to his first campaign speech in 1999 and read again his promises – promises to reject those Republicans who said government has no role in caring for those in need and promises to reject the liberal notion that dollars spent are directly related to compassion. Instead, eight years later the Republican party is looking for a philosophy – looking for its reason to exist. Tonight’s debate seemed to highlight these things – Republicans believe:
– in cutting taxes;
– in saying they believe in God;
– in being tough on foreign policy.
Health care? Poverty? Hunger? Nah.
The “winner”? – John McCain – he was energetic, he seemed like that “straight talk” guy again, he was blunt.
The “loser”? – Rudy Giuliani – his abortion answer was… well… bizarre. He’s for it, he’s against, he isn’t sure…and he is the one who is tough and certain? Uhhh, maybe not.
The outsiders who might be on the inside after all – Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee…stay tuned